Generations of Camaros have been customized with influences from various forms of racing. But building a Camaro that resembles an import tuner more than a typical muscle car is something that most enthusiasts can’t imagine … until you get a look at Gene Tjin’s SS. Some would argue that this Camaro has more of a Pro Touring style to it, but Gene’s experience with performance cars came from customizing a variety of imports.
But to understand how this Camaro came to be, it’s necessary to get a little background on its owner. A native of Suriname, South America, who came to the United States at age 6, Gene is a photographer and graphic artist who comes from a family of talented individuals. His brother, Neil, became a car designer and ended up working at GM. In 2009, Neil created the “Tjin Edition Chevrolet Camaro SS.” This prompted Gene to create and design his own version, which he presented to Chevrolet and got the go-ahead to build the car for the 2010 SEMA show. His ideas went from paper to metal to create a unique street performance car in a tuner style, but one that doesn’t take away from its true American heritage.
Considering this is Gene’s first American car, he’s definitely done well to give it a unique look that many wouldn’t normally consider. Nevertheless, Gene’s artistic talent and love for everything automotive hasn’t gone so far as to keep anyone from replicating these great ideas to turn this American classic into a custom ride with a tuner influence.
A car like this has to have some muscle behind it to prove that it’s not just a showpiece. A few extra horses were persuaded from the engine with a Lysholm twin-screw supercharger. This 2.3L blower now allows the Camaro’s engine to produce 521 rear-wheel horsepower and 493 lb-ft of rear-wheel torque. In addition, a set of American Racing headers and a MagnaFlow exhaust system are also used to reduce backpressure, and Royal Purple lubricants help keep the engine and transmission running cool. Other engine details include the use of AFX heater hoses and cleaning up the engine compartment by hiding the wiring harness.
When Gene sits inside the Camaro, he’s surrounded by plush red leather seats and a set of Status racing harnesses that strap him in. The harnesses are attached to a crossbar that also provides some added stiffness to the car’s suspension, without the clutter of a full rollcage. While he’s strapped in, Gene uses the factory shifter to operate the six-speed manual transmission that’s equipped with a SPEC performance clutch to help transfer the power to the rest of the drivetrain.
An upgraded stereo system also allows Gene to have a party going on in the front and back seats. A Pioneer head unit and Image Dynamics amplifiers and speakers allow listeners to hear every music note clearly while several of the pieces are nicely hidden in the truck behind a red leather-covered divider. Gene also added a set of Glow-Shift gauges in the interior to keep an eye on boost and fuel pressure, while an Escort 9,500ci radar detector keeps a lookout for speed traps on the highway.
To achieve the ultralow stance, Gene used a full Air Lift digital air suspension system that was installed by Unique Fabrication in Irvine, California. This allows the car to be raised or lowered so that it can be easily driven on the street, while a set of Eibach antisway bars keep the Camaros body firmly in balance.
Gene began by incorporating some custom bodywork to the Camaro, which was done by Luis Rodriguez of LR Auto Body in Anaheim, California. Rodriguez shaved the original rear quarter-panel vents and reverse lights and added a custom LED reverse light to the trunk lid. Here you also notice that Gene added a race-inspired split spoiler that was custom made by Unique Fabrication, and bolted onto position.